House Oversight Committee chairman Representative Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) said that a recent news report outlines how the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms (ATF) is using tactics that amount to “Fast and Furious revisited” in a bid to increase support for the Obama Administration’s gun control crusade.
During a Sunday program on Fox News, Issa discussed a recent report by the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel which details how ATF agents operating stings in six different cities “took advantage of the mentally ill, set up stings near churches and schools and made decisions which some claim actually increased crime in their neighborhoods.”
“This is Fast and Furious revisited,” Issa said. “You finally have a confirmed director, Todd Jones, who was supposed to clean up these operations. And instead — what you see in many of these cases — they’re continuing. They’re continuing to have this be what’s called a ‘rogue organization.’ But I think for the members of the ATF, I want to make sure I make one thing clear. The ATF never acts alone. The FBI and the U.S. attorneys in each of these areas — political appointees — they work hand in hand… This is the President, President Obama’s Department of Justice that continues to support these sting operations, these ‘rogue operations’ as they’re called, that lead to harm in communities.”
The Dec. 7 Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel report listed the following tactics used by the ATF in various stings throughout the Nation:
■ ATF agents befriended mentally disabled people to drum up business and later arrested them in at least four cities in addition to Milwaukee. In Wichita, Kan., ATF agents referred to a man with a low IQ as “slow-headed” before deciding to secretly use him as a key cog in their sting. And agents in Albuquerque, N.M., gave a brain-damaged drug addict with little knowledge of weapons a “tutorial” on machine guns, hoping he could find them one.
■ Agents in several cities opened undercover gun- and drug-buying operations in safe zones near churches and schools, allowed juveniles to come in and play video games and teens to smoke marijuana, and provided alcohol to underage youths. In Portland, attorneys for three teens who were charged said a female agent dressed provocatively, flirted with the boys and encouraged them to bring drugs and weapons to the store to sell.
■ As they did in Milwaukee, agents in other cities offered sky-high prices for guns, leading suspects to buy firearms at stores and turn around and sell them to undercover agents for a quick profit. In other stings, agents ran fake pawnshops and readily bought stolen items, such as electronics and bikes — no questions asked — spurring burglaries and theft. In Atlanta, agents bought guns that had been stolen just hours earlier, several ripped off from police cars.
■ Agents damaged buildings they rented for their operations, tearing out walls and rewiring electricity — then stuck landlords with the repair bills. A property owner in Portland said agents removed a parking lot spotlight,damaging her new $30,000 roof and causing leaks, before they shut down the operation and disappeared without a way for her to contact them.
■ Agents pressed suspects for specific firearms that could fetch tougher penalties in court. They allowed felons to walk out of the stores armed with guns. In Wichita, agents suggested a felon take a shotgun, saw it off and bring it back — and provided instructions on how to do it. The sawed-off gun allowed them to charge the man with a more serious crime.
■ In Pensacola, the ATF hired a felon to run its pawnshop. The move widened the pool of potential targets, boosting arrest numbers.Even those trying to sell guns legally could be charged if they knowingly sold to a felon. The ATF’s pawnshop partner was later convicted of pointing a loaded gun at someone outside a bar. Instead of a stiff sentence typically handed down to repeat offenders in federal court, he got six months in jail — and a pat on the back from the prosecutor.
Issa— who, along with Senator Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) and Representative Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.), has asked Jones to provide Congress with some answers about the ATF’s questionable tactics— told Fox viewers that the agency’s actions are directly related to the White House’s disdain for the 2nd Amendment.
“I think what we have here once again is a war on guns, if you will, that causes them to take these bold moves — bold and reckless moves — because they hate guns so much,” he said. “Fast and Furious had the opposite effect; it made Americans scared of their government… Whether it’s Fast and Furious or being lied to by the NSA, the American people are getting tired of assuming that an agency does one thing and then finding out that they’re abusing citizens, and in this case the mentally retarded.”